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Full text of "My Country And My People"

THE    CHINESE    CHARACTER               45

as a high moral virtue.   As our saying goes, "A   man who
cannot tolerate small ills can never accomplish great things/3

The training school for developing this virtue is, however,
the big family, where a large number of daughters-in-law,
brothers-in-law, fathers and sons daily learn this virtue by
trying to endure one another. In the big family, where a closed
door is an offence, and where there is very little elbow-room
for the individuals, one learns by necessity and by parental
instruction from early childhood the need for mutual toleration
and adjustments in human relationships. The deep, slow,
everyday wearing effect on character can scarcely be over-
estimated.

There was once a prime minister, Chang Kungni, who was
much envied for his earthly blessedness of having nine genera-
tions living together under the same roof. Once the emperor,
T'ang Kaochung, asked him the secret of his success, and the
minister asked for a brush and paper, on which he wrote a
hundred times the character "patience" or "endurance."
Instead of taking that as a sad commentary on the family
system, the Chinese people have ever after envied his example,
and the phrase "hundred patience" (po-jeri) has passed into
current moral proverbs which are written on red paper and
pasted on all house-doors on New Year's Day: "peaceableness
brings good luck99/ "patience is the best family heritage," etc. But
so long as the family system exists and so long as society is
built on the principle that a man is not an individual but
attains his full being only in living in harmonious social
relationships, it is easy to see how patience must be regarded
as a supreme virtue and must grow naturally out of the social
system. For in such a society, patience has a reason for
existence.

III. INDIFFERENCE

But if the Chinese people are unique in their patience, they
are still more justly famous for their indifference. This, again,
I believe, is a product of social environment. There is no more
significant contrast than that between the parting instruction